FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German solar module maker Centrosolar has seen strong business so far this year, but surging demand ahead of solar subsidy changes in Germany has led to supply difficulties, its CEO told Reuters on Wednesday. “The first quarter went well for us. Despite the bad weather, we’ve practically been running at full capacity since mid-January. This is due to our large presence abroad, and there was no snow in southern Europe,” Alexander Kirsch said in an interview.
“The second quarter, too, got off to a good start. But customer demand is huge which means we partly have difficulties in supplying. Therefore, we continue to work on expanding our capacities,” he added.
Solar companies, such as Solon and Q-CellsDE>, have seen their share prices plunging as Germany, the world’s largest solar market, is planning to slash subsidies for solar power which the government says are too high.
This has led customers to bring forward orders for solar installations to take advantage of the subsidies before they get cut later in the year, while companies try to reduce their sales exposure to Germany.
Centrosolar has made about half of its 2009 sales abroad which is seen as a clear positive by analysts in the current sector crisis.
The company, which is set to release first-quarter results on May 5, said last month it aimed for 2010 sales of 340-370 million euros ($464.3-505.3 million) and EBIT of 14-16 million euros.
According to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, analysts on average expect 2010 sales to come in at 352 million euros and EBIT of 15.7 million euros.
However, Kirsch said that a dividend payout for 2010 was not planned -- in line with the Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S estimate -- but added such a move remained part of the company’s long-term strategy.
“For 2010, there is no scope for a dividend in our view. But in the long-term we are planning on balancing growth opportunities and payouts to our shareholders. Therefore, we regularly put that topic under review.”